Entries Tagged "vulnerabilities"
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Global secrets are generally considered poor security. The problems are twofold. One, you cannot apply any granularity to the security system; someone either knows the secret or does not. And two, global secrets are brittle. They fail badly; if the secret gets out, then the bad guys have a pretty powerful secret.
This is the situation right now in Sydney, where someone stole the master key that gives access to every train in the metropolitan area, and also starts them.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a thief who got lucky. It happened twice, and it’s possible that the keys were the target:
The keys, each of which could start every train, were taken in separate robberies within hours of each other from the North Shore Line although police believed the thefts were unrelated, a RailCorp spokeswoman said.
The first incident occurred at Gordon station when the driver of an empty train was robbed of the keys by two balaclava-clad men shortly after midnight on Sunday morning.
The second theft took place at Waverton Station on Sunday night when a driver was robbed of a bag, which contained the keys, she said.
So, what can someone do with the master key to the Sydney subway? It’s more likely a criminal than a terrorist, but even so it’s definitely a serious issue:
A spokesman for RailCorp told the paper it was taking the matter “very seriously,” but would not change the locks on its trains.
Instead, as of Sunday night, it had increased security around its sidings, with more patrols by private security guards and transit officers.
The spokesman said a “range of security measures” meant a train could not be stolen, even with the keys.
I don’t know if RailCorp should change the locks. I don’t know the risk: whether that “range of security measures” only protects against train theft—an unlikely scenario, if you ask me—or other potential scenarios as well. And I don’t know how expensive it would be to change the locks.
Another problem with global secrets is that it’s expensive to recover from a security failure.
And this certainly isn’t the first time a master key fell into the wrong hands:
Mr Graham said there was no point changing any of the metropolitan railway key locks.
“We could change locks once a week but I don’t think it reduces in any way the security threat as such because there are 2000 of these particular keys on issue to operational staff across the network and that is always going to be, I think, an issue.”
A final problem with global secrets is that it’s simply too easy to lose control of them.
Moral: Don’t rely on global secrets.
Advertisers are beaming unwanted content to Bluetooth phones at a distance of 100 meters.
Sure, it’s annoying, but worse, there are serious security risks. Don’t believe this:
Furthermore, there is no risk of downloading viruses or other malware to the phone, says O’Regan: “We don’t send applications or executable code.” The system uses the phone’s native download interface so they should be able to see the kind of file they are downloading before accepting it, he adds.
This company might not send executable code, but someone else certainly could. And what percentage of people who use Bluetooth phones can recognize “the kind of file they are downloading”?
We’ve already seen two ways to steal data from Bluetooth devices. And we know that more and more sensitive data is being stored on these small devices, increasing the risk. This is almost certainly another avenue for attack.
I’ve been reading the massive press coverage about Zotob (technical details are here, here, and here), and can’t figure out what the big deal is about. Yes, it propagates in Windows 2000 without user intervention, which is always nastier. It uses a Microsoft plug-and-play vulnerability, which is somewhat interesting. But the only reason I can think of that CNN did rolling coverage on it is that CNN was hit by it.
Interesting article: “The Hidden Boot Code of the Xbox, or How to fit three bugs in 512 bytes of security code.”
Microsoft wanted to lock out both pirated games and unofficial games, so they built a chain of trust on the Xbox from the hardware to the execution of the game code. Only code authorized by Microsoft could run on the Xbox. The link between hardware and software in this chain of trust is the hidden “MCPX” boot ROM. The article discusses that ROM.
Lots of kindergarten security mistakes.
There’s a new Trojan that tries to steal World of Warcraft passwords.
That reminded me about this article, about people paying programmers to find exploits to make virtual money in multiplayer online games, and then selling the proceeds for real money.
And here’s a page about ways people steal fake money in the online game Neopets, including cookie grabbers, fake login pages, fake contests, social engineering, and pyramid schemes.
I regularly say that every form of theft and fraud in the real world will eventually be duplicated in cyberspace. Perhaps every method of stealing real money will eventually be used to steal imaginary money, too.
There’s a new Windows 2000 vulnerability:
A serious flaw has been discovered in a core component of Windows 2000, with no possible work-around until it gets fixed, a security company said.
The vulnerability in Microsoft’s operating system could enable remote intruders to enter a PC via its Internet Protocol address, Marc Maiffret, chief hacking officer at eEye Digital Security, said on Wednesday. As no action on the part of the computer user is required, the flaw could easily be exploited to create a worm attack, he noted.
What may be particularly problematic with this unpatched security hole is that a work-around is unlikely, he said.
“You can’t turn this (vulnerable) component off,” Maiffret said. “It’s always on. You can’t disable it. You can’t uninstall.”
Don’t fail to notice the sensationalist explanation from eEye. This is what I call a “publicity attack” (note that the particular example in that essay is wrong): it’s an attempt by eEye Digital Security to get publicity for their company. Yes, I’m sure it’s a bad vulnerability. Yes, I’m sure Microsoft should have done more to secure their systems. But eEye isn’t blameless in this; they’re searching for vulnerabilities that make good press releases.
There’s some new information on last week’s Lynn/Cisco/ISS story: Mike Lynn gave an interesting interview to Wired. Here’s some news about the FBI’s investigation. And here’s a video of Cisco/ISS ripping pages out of the BlackHat conference proceedings.
Someone is setting up a legal defense fund for Lynn. Send donations via PayPal to Abaddon@IO.com. (Does anyone know the URL?) According to BoingBoing, donations not used to defend Lynn will be donated to the EFF.
Copies of Lynn’s talk have popped up on the Internet, but some have been removed due to legal cease-and-desist letters from ISS attorneys, like this one. Currently, Lynn’s slides are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. (The list is from BoingBoing.) Note that the presentation above is not the same as the one Lynn gave at BlackHat. The presentation at BlackHat didn’t have the ISS logo at the bottom, as the one on the Internet does. Also, the critical code components were blacked out. (Photographs of Lynn’s actual presentation slides were available here, but have been removed due to legal threats from ISS.)
Hackers are working overtime to reconstruct Lynn’s attack and write an exploit. This, of course, means that we’re in much more danger of there being a worm that makes use of this vulnerability.
The sad thing is that we could have avoided this. If Cisco and ISS had simply let Lynn present his work, it would have been just another obscure presentation amongst the sea of obscure presentations that is BlackHat. By attempting to muzzle Lynn, the two companies ensured that 1) the vulnerability was the biggest story of the conference, and 2) some group of hackers would turn the vulnerability into exploit code just to get back at them.
EDITED TO ADD: Jennifer Granick is Lynn’s attorney, and she has blogged about what happened at BlackHat and DefCon. And photographs of the slides Lynn actually used for his talk are here (for now, at least). Is it just me, or does it seem like ISS is pursuing this out of malice? With Cisco I think it was simple stupidity, but I think it’s malice with ISS.
EDITED TO ADD: I don’t agree with Irs Winkler’s comments, either.
EDITED TO ADD: ISS defends itself.
EDITED TO ADD: More commentary.
EDITED TO ADD: Nice rebuttal to Winkler’s essay.
This is impressive:
This new toool is called The Car Whisperer and allows people equipped with a Linux Laptop and a directional antenna to inject audio to, and record audio from bypassing cars that have an unconnected Bluetooth handsfree unit running. Since many manufacturers use a standard passkey which often is the only authentication that is needed to connect.
This tool allows to interact with other drivers when traveling or maybe used in order to talk to that pushy Audi driver right behind you 😉 . It also allows to eavesdrop conversations in the inside of the car by accessing the microphone.
EDITED TO ADD: Another article.
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.